When you compete in bodybuilding, you need to make sure you’re targeting all of your muscles—yes, even the calves. This muscle has become a meme within the fitness industry, and many on social media will admit to neglecting it during leg day.
The calves are, admittedly, one of the hardest parts to develop for any fitness buff. Even seven-time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger struggled to grow them — but he didn’t quit. Instead, he trademarked the credo “Attack your weaknesses” and trained his calves six days a week, which included 500-pound calf raises.
So why are the calves such a trouble spot? Part of it has to do with genetics — your parents may not have given you the genes necessary to make them grow as big as you need to earn your IFBB pro card or stand on an Olympia stage. The second, though, is that the calves are already worked in your everyday life.
The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles are both vital for things like walking and running, meaning they’re already being worked out before you touch a piece of iron. That also means a few calf raises aren’t going to do much to stress them into further growth.
This means you need to attack them with force: We’re talking high reps and heavy weight to get the blood rushing into them to get them larger.
No one knows more about the effort and the success it takes to overcome this bodybuilding hurdle than the four past Mr. Olympia winners here that have shared their tips and tricks to making the calves more impressive than their onstage counterparts.
Unlike our prior “Train the Olympia Way” pieces, we’ll give you two pieces of advice from each champ: their favorite calf move and the technique they employed. As always, we’ll provide the reasoning for each as well. We’ll also provide you with not one, but two sample workouts: one that goes heavy and hard and another that’s high volume.
Heed their advice and follow the two workouts that are below so you can reach your full potential and reap the rewards.